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Navigate the show with your phone

Two of the major boat show organizers are now offering mobile websites or apps to help show-goers navigate the aisles and docks with their smart phones and tablets.

Show Management’s “MyBoatShow,” a free app for the iPhone, iPad and Android, is expected to be ready for download for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which runs Oct. 27-31, says Show Management marketing director Steve Sheer.

“We’re staying up to date with how our attendees are behaving and the tools they like to use for research,” Sheer says. “This is a great app because you can map out your day by searching for products and exhibitors and adding them to your ‘Favorites List’ and organizing your day so you can spend your time making the most of the show.”

The National Marine Manufacturers Association launched a mobile website Sept. 13 for the 21st annual International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference, set for Oct. 17-19 in Louisville, Ky. “It will provide valuable IBEX information on the go, allowing attendees … to turn their [devices] into interactive IBEX planners,” says NMMA public relations manager Sarah Ryser. “The mobile website is a useful tool, not just for the actual show dates but before, during and after the show as well.” To access the IBEX mobile site, go to www.ibexshow.com and click on the “IBEX Mobile website” box on the right.

A free show navigation mobile app is also expected to be available for the NMMA’s 2012 Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail (Feb. 17-21), Ryser says. The NMMA’s first show app was available for the 2011 Miami show, she says.

There is a difference between a mobile website and a mobile app, but the overall goal in this case is the same: provide boat show information on a mobile device. A mobile app is a program that allows the user to carry out certain functions. For instance, the 2011 Miami show app delivered lists of exhibitors, boats, maps and other information. A mobile website is a version of a website set up to work well on a mobile device — a smart phone and tablet optimized website. It can also be found on the normal version of the website.

Going forward, Show Management will offer its MyBoatShow app for other shows it manages, such as the St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show and the Palm Beach International Boat Show, Sheer says. “That’s why the name of our app is generic, because it will be used for all of our shows,” Sheer says. “When the St. Pete Power & Sail show rolls around, you’ll be able to get the same app for that boat show.”

There are no apps in the works for other NMMA shows, Ryser says. “For now, we want to make sure we are optimizing the experience for IBEX and the Miami boat show, but the plan is to roll out apps for other shows, particularly the ones with a broad reach,” she says. That would include shows in New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Minneapolis, she says.

The Show Management app will provide multiple interactive functions, such as an exhibitor list, a list of boats, a list of products and maps of the show locations (the Bahia Mar, Hall Of Fame and Las Olas marinas, the Broward County Convention Center, Fort Lauderdale Hilton Marina and the Sails Marina). You can use MyBoatShow to access information about new boats and products and identify their display locations at the show, Show Management Web manager Paul Brown says.

“For instance, you can search for all the inboard boats or search for all the boats at a specific show location, such as all the boats at the convention center,” Brown says. “You can search for an exhibitor, and when you find that exhibitor the app will take you to a map showing that exhibitor’s area.” Search a boat by size, type, sub-type, builder or location. You can search new boats, brokerage boats or all boats.

The app is in the testing phase and should be available prior to the boat show, Sheer says. Meanwhile, you can find lots of show information on the company’s website (www.show management.com).

One of the key tools will be the ability to compile a “Favorites List” of boats, events or products that you want to see, Sheer says. Tapping on the name of an exhibitor will give you its website and phone number. Selecting a boat also will deliver specs and identify the participating dealer, he says. The app also will deliver alerts giving show-goers daily updates with additional show information.

The IBEX mobile site also includes a real-time update/alert function. “You can find out what’s happening on the show floor with seminars and special events,” Ryser says. In addition, the site provides a list of exhibitors and booth numbers, a session schedule, maps and a link to information about Louisville, she says.

The FLIBS app and the NMMA’s mobile website and app will provide transportation information as well. For instance, the FLIBS app will show bus and water transportation routes on the illustrations of the show and the Fort Lauderdale area.

This article originally appeared in the October 2011 issue.

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